To Haiti cholera, to the Clintons, profit 2

It is not remarkable or surprising to read this account of just some of the IMMENSE AND APPALLING HARM that the United Nations does.

Nor is it surprising to read that the Clintons profit from the harm.

What is surprising is to learn that the New York Times, National Public Radio and CNN actually reported the harm, and the Huffington Post actually criticized the UN and the corrupt firms and organizations that profited from it.

And it’s utterly astonishing to be told that the UN admitted that the 150,000 or so peacekeepers it sends out into the world each year have done so much harm that the UN cannot allow a single claim for compensation to be met because it would be a precedent for an untold number of other such claims. 

From Disobedient Media by Elizabeth Vos:

After earthquakes, hurricanes, and United Nations sex rings have ravaged Haiti, it might be fair to call the locale a hell on earth. In the aftermath of the massive 2010 earthquake, the UN further deteriorated the situation by introducing cholera to the poverty stricken nation. Six years would pass before the U.N. admitted its role in bringing the infection to Haiti.

In the intervening years, thousands of Haitians died from the infection that spread uncontrollably through lack of infrastructure and poor medical treatment. While shockingly little was done by the United Nations in response to the disaster, the tragedy allowed micro-lenders and re-insurers to quickly move in, profiting where critics say aid organizations should have provided help.

The United Nations dispatched peacekeepers to aid the recovery process after a severe earthquake struck Haiti in 2010. Unfortunately the peacekeepers added to the Haitian death toll after introducing cholera to the already devastated environment, apparently brought over by UN peacekeepers from Nepal. It was not until 2016 that the UN finally admitted responsibility for the outbreak. Cholera was not the only plague brought to Haiti by U.N. peacekeepers. As previously reported by Disobedient Media, peacekeepers were revealed to have also been operating a Haitian sex ring in the country from 2004 to 2007.

Bill Clinton was appointed as the United Nation’s special envoy to Haiti at the time of the cholera outbreak, but immediately focused on helping negotiate the release of child trafficker Laura Silsby and her co-defendants before giving attention to Haiti’s plethora of other issues.

Just over ten thousand Haitians are officially reported to have died as a result of the cholera epidemic. However, a study conducted by Doctors Without Borders estimated that this figure may represent a vast underestimation of the death toll. The New York Times reported the results “could multiply the known death toll by roughly a factor of three, at least in the first six months of the epidemic, when it was most intense.” Many of those who died never made it to hospitals, where official counts of the dead were made.

Seven years after it was introduced, cholera is still endemic in Haiti. The United Nations has provided no financial reparations to the victims of the illness and their families. Haitian cholera victims have sued the United Nations in hope of achieving some compensation; so far the absolute diplomatic immunity of the UN has been upheld.

NPR reported that victims want the U.N. to end cholera by installing a national water and sanitation system; paying reparations to cholera victims and their families and publicly apologizing for bringing cholera to Haiti.

U.N. officials’ were cited as fearing that if the Haitian plaintiffs succeed in piercing the agency’s cloak of immunity, it would open the way to unlimited lawsuits seeking compensation for acts of the U.N. or the 150,000 peacekeeping forces it sends out into the world each year.

The UN’s reticence to aid Haitian cholera victims contradicts its central platform promising to uphold human rights. While the country still lacks proper sanitary conditions and medical care, CNN reported that the World Health Organization planned to send one million doses of cholera vaccine to Haiti, adding that there were still: “770 new cases per week in 2016″.

Less than a year after the cholera outbreak, microfinancers and re-insurers including Swiss Re, Fonkoze, Mercy Corp partnered with the Clinton Global Initiative to create the Microinsurance Catastrophe Risk Organization (MiCRO). At this time Haiti still lacked basic sanitation. Mercy Corp is Chaired by Linda A. Mason, who also co-founded Bright Horizons, a large child care organization that has previously operated in Haiti with Mercy Corp.

Disobedient Media has previously reported on Swiss Re’s involvement with a land grabbing scandal targeting impoverished farmers in Brazil. The report highlighted close financial ties that Swiss Re had to investors George Soros and Warren Buffet. The George Soros Foundation is a major investor in Leapfrog Investments, a private equity firm. Other investors in Leapfrog Investments include the European Investment Bank, JP Morgan, Prudential Financial, Metlife, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and most significantly the TIAA [Financial Services] and Swiss Re. Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. also sank billions into Swiss Re in 2009. Buffet has since offloaded a portion of his stake in Swiss Re in 2015, ending a five year long tenure as the reinsurance group’s largest investor.

On the surface, it appeared that microfinance would benefit Haitians. However, re-insurance and microfinance are for-profit business models, not to be conflated with the work of aid groups. According to an article published by the Standford Social Innovation Review, “in some instances microcredit makes life at the bottom of the pyramid worse… in contrast to nonprofit organizations, commercial banks that make microloans typically provide only financial services.

Indonesia’s Bank Rakyat, Ecuador’s Bank Pichincha, and Brazil’s Unibanco all directly target poor customers.” The apparent inability of microfinance to improve the lives of the impoverished it targets has led to detractors denouncing it as a means of de-facto economic enslavement.

The presence of microfinancing groups in Haiti as the UN failed to intervene during the cholera outbreak raises questions in regards to profits these groups may have made in the wake of disasters, be they natural or man-made.

In 2012, the Huffington Post cited critics who speculated that cholera had introduced a profit motive for international reinsurersand asked why Haitians should pay for cholera insurancewhen the United Nations has yet to make reparations for a disease it introduced to a country that had never before experienced this strain of cholera and no other cholera infections for over a century.

The affair raises serious concerns about whether or not insurance and reinsurance firms used the UN-created crisis to profit, and highlights the endemic problems that the involvement of special interests can cause in humanitarian aid work.

Let us sum up what happened:

The UN introduced cholera to poverty-stricken, earthquake and hurricane tormented Haiti.

Insurance companies extract insurance from Haitians to “protect” them from all such “catastrophe risk”.

George Soros, Warren Buffet, Bill and Hillary Clinton profit. 

Haitians continue to die of cholera and are even poorer.

The Travelling Wave 12

A socialist society is a stagnant society. And stagnation is a terminal illness of powers and peoples.

Invention springs from one brain, even if the development of it is advanced by other brains. A committee, a commune, a community, a jolly gathering of drinking chums will never do it.

Not only is there no incentive under socialism for an inventor to invent, there is also a lack of what he (have you noticed an inventor is always a “he”?) needs to do it: spare money, spare time, and above all freedom. No one interfering with him, no one saying you may or may not do this or that. No one directing him how to use his time. No one sharing his facilities and tools.

Only freedom fosters innovation.

Look how little in the way of important invention has come out of socialist Europe since WW2. It’s not because Europeans can no longer invent, it’s just that they have to go to non-socialist countries to do it. (Vide Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the Briton who invented the World Wide Web – in capitalist Switzerland.)

Fortunately in America, despite Obama’s efforts to turn the United States into Big Sweden, there are still some of the right conditions – some freedom and capital and incentive – for invention. But already ideas conceived in America need to be taken elsewhere for their development. Where? Shamefully, to communist China, because it has a freer economic system, less government regulation, and no pestilential environmentalist lobby. 

Here’s the story of an American inventor and his idea, from an article by Carl Shockley in the National Review:

An extraordinary pair of events occurred this week. They concerned the future of energy and two of the world’s richest men, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. No one took much notice but they have remarkable implications for the future of the American economy.

First, Gates returned from a secret visit to China where, it was revealed in the Chinese press, he struck a deal with the Chinese National Nuclear Corporation to develop the Travelling Wave Reactor, a highly innovative technology that Gates has been developing with his spin-off company, TerraPower.

The Travelling Wave is a profoundly sophisticated technology that, thus far, exists only on paper. The idea is this: First, you design a fuel assembly in the shape of a long cigar, so that it burns slowly end-to-end. The uranium first “burns,” producing heat and electricity and transforming into plutonium and other highly radioactive isotopes in the process – creating what is usually called “nuclear waste.” But this is no “waste,” as the design of the reactor then allows the plutonium to “react” with itself as well, producing another round of nuclear fission and burning up the “waste” fuel in the process. By the time the “wave” has travelled end-to-end it will have generated up to 1000mW or more of electricity for a century with no refueling and very little waste remaining at the end of the process.

The Travelling Wave is the brainchild of Nathan Myhrvold, the legendary chief of research at Microsoft who, a decade ago, founded his own company, Intellectual Ventures, to research futuristic technology. Myhrvold settled on the Travelling Wave as the wave of the future and convinced Gates to fund TerraPower in order to develop it. The company is now working on the design with the aid of “1,024 Xeon core processors assembled on 128 blade servers,” which is a cluster that has “over 1,000 times the computational ability as a desktop computer,” according to its own report. TerraPower President John Gilleland estimates that a demonstration model can be assembled within ten years, with commercialization in 15.

But where to do all this? Developing nuclear technology in the United States means squeezing through the portals of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, that 11-story building in Beltsville, Md., that serves as corporate headquarters and clearinghouse for all new ideas in the nuclear industry. Right now, NRC chairman Gregory Jaczko is complaining he doesn’t have enough staff to conduct license-renewal applications for aging reactors such as Vermont Yankee and New York’s Indian Point (which will conveniently allow him to postpone these contentious issues until after the 2012 election, thereby protecting President Obama’s environmental flank). Getting approval from the NRC to build anything new is basically a lost cause. …  Several start-up companies have been trying to commercialize small-modular reactors but so far they have barely managed to get a foot in the door at the NRC.

So where to go with your revolutionary ideas? Why, China, of course! There they don’t have a mandarinate bureaucracy or hordes of environmental lawyers waiting to oppose your every move. So Gates has taken his pet idea to China — which means, of course, that if the Travelling Wave ever becomes a reality, China will be manufacturing them.

But wait — don’t we have “alternative technologies” that are going to make all this fossil fuel and nuclear stuff unnecessary? That’s what Warren Buffett thinks. Last week his MidAmerican Energy Holdings plunked down $2 billion to buy the 550-megawatt Topaz Solar Farm in the Central Valley of California. This is one of those projects in which about five square miles of photovoltaic panels are deployed in order to produce slightly less electricity than the 40-year-old Vermont Yankee nuclear facility — and only when the sun shines. During the night, when nuclear power just about runs the whole country, we’ll have to try something else.

Is Buffett riding the wave of the future? Does he see something that Gates and others don’t recognize? Well, not really. What he is perceiving most clearly is the array of federal and state subsidies, plus California’s “renewable portfolio standard” that requires utilities to build and buy solar electricity regardless of whether it’s reliable or even needed. … Even if these projects produce off-and-on electricity at four times the price of today’s power, they will be guaranteed a profit.

Under redistributionist big-government regimes there is always Obama-type “crony-capitalism”, which is not capitalism but the destruction of it.

We may soon see a wave of American inventors emigrating to anomalous China where, among other favorable conditions, fossil-fueled and nuclear power will reliably provide the energy to drive progress.

 

(Hat-tip Andrew M for the link)

Wrong state of mind 2

Why do economic achievers, like George Soros for instance, who made their splendid fortunes because they had the freedom to do so, want to close that freedom to others? Or to put it another way, why do some who have benefited spectacularly from capitalism then go and vote for socialism and promote anti-free market causes?

We don’t know the answer to that question. There are a number of possible reasons, one of them being that a person might be very good at making money and yet be quite stupid.

Here’s an example of a German magnate who believes that individuals should not be allowed to make decisions for themselves, that bureaucrats know what is best for everybody, and the state should control and distribute the resources of the nation. He speaks for hundreds of millions of Europeans, which is why many European countries – Greece is a case in point – are facing economic ruin.

The story is told in Investor’s Business Daily. We emphatically agree with the editorial opinion.

An ultrawealthy German criticizes private charity, saying it takes “the place of the state.” More disturbing than the statement itself is the sad fact that many in the Western world agree with him.

Der Spiegel reported last week that “Germany’s super-rich have rejected” an invitation to join Bill Gates and Warren Buffett’s “Giving Pledge,” in which the wealthy promise to give away a majority of their fortunes “either during their lifetime or after their death.” Wealthy Germans, Spiegel says, believe “donations shouldn’t replace duties that would be better carried out by the state.” Among them is a bitter Peter Kramer.

“I find the U.S. initiative highly problematic,” Kramer, a Hamburg-based shipping magnate, said in a Spiegel interview. “You can write donations off in your taxes to a large degree in the U.S.A. So the rich make a choice: Would I rather donate or pay taxes? The donors are taking the place of the state. That’s unacceptable.

What is apparently acceptable to these wealthy Germans is the unlimited authority of the state and the prerogative it’s given itself to restrict people’s choices.

“It is all just a bad transfer of power from the state to billionaires,” Kramer continues. … “What legitimacy do these people have to decide where massive sums of money will flow?”

Is it legitimate for the state to demand wealth from some so it can give it to others? …

Money handed out by the state is taken from productive citizens, then distributed through the corrupt and inefficient system of politics … It’s a system based on coercion.

Even better than private charity is private enterprise. Markets meet needs by creating wealth and growing economies. No system can match capitalism in its ability to bring prosperity to so many.

While there’s a place for charity, it’s merely a patch and should be used with great care. There’s no place, though, for forced redistribution. What’s chilling is that so many still believe there is.

Posted under Commentary, Conservatism, Economics, Europe, Germany, liberty, Socialism, United States by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, August 17, 2010

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Keep the change 0

 Jonathan Weil writes at  Bloomberg-com:

It’s hard to believe Barack Obama would even think of calling this change.

Take a good look at some of the 17 people our nation’s president-elect chose last week for his Transition Economic Advisory Board. And then try saying with a straight face that these are the leaders who should be advising him on how to navigate through the worst financial crisis in modern history.

First, there’s former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. Not only was he chairman of Citigroup Inc.’s executive committee when the bank pushed bogus analyst research, helped Enron Corp. cook its books, and got caught baking its own. He was a director from 2000 to 2006 at Ford Motor Co., which also committed accounting fouls and now is begging Uncle Sam for Citigroup- style bailout cash.

Two other Citigroup directors received spots on the Obama board: Xerox Corp. Chief Executive Officer Anne Mulcahy and Time Warner Inc. ChairmanRichard ParsonsXerox and Time Warner got pinched years ago by the Securities and Exchange Commission for accounting frauds that occurred while Mulcahy and Parsons held lesser executive posts at their respective companies.

Mulcahy and Parsons also once were directors at Fannie Mae when that company was breaking accounting rules. So was another member of Obama’s new economic board, former Commerce Secretary William Daley. He’s now a member of the executive committee at JPMorgan Chase & Co., which, like Citigroup, is among the nine large banks that just got $125 billion of Treasury’s bailout budget.

There’s More

Obama’s economic crew might as well be called the Bailout Bunch. Another slot went to former White House economic adviser Laura Tyson. She’s been a director for about a decade at Morgan Stanley, which in 2004 got slapped foraccounting violations by the SEC and a month ago got $10 billion from Treasury.

That’s not all. There’s Penny Pritzker, the Obama campaign’s national finance chairwoman. She was on the board of the holding company for subprime lender Superior Bank FSB. The Chicago-area thrift, in which her family held a 50 percent stake, was seized by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in 2001. The thrift’s owners agreed to pay the government $460 million over 15 years to help cover the FDIC’s losses.

Even some of the brighter lights on Obama’s board, like Warren Buffett and former SEC Chairman William Donaldson, come with asterisks. Buffett was on the audit committee of Coca-Cola Co.’s board when the SEC found the soft-drink maker had misled investors about its earnings. Donaldson was on the audit committee from 1998 to 2001 at a provider of free e-mail services called Mail.com Inc. Just before he left the SEC, in 2005, the agency disciplined the company over accounting violations that had occurred on his watch.

So, by my tally, almost half the people on Obama’s economic advisory board have held fiduciary positions at companies that, to one degree or another, either fried their financial statements, helped send the world into an economic tailspin, or both.

There’s still more. We recommend that you read the whole thing.